“The Earth is 6,000 years old!” (plus 4.5 billion-ish years)
“Guns save hundreds, maybe THOUSANDS of American lives a year!” (plus the 32,000 a year they end)
“The Tea Party represents AMERICA!” (minus the 78 percent that it doesn’t)
“Obama’s added $5 TRILLION to the national debt!” (after Bush added $6 Trillion)
Teabaggers love throwing shocking numbers out there, knowing well that the harder Right the reader, the less likely they are to put anything into the appropriate context. That being the case, here’s the latest number being thrown around by the Right…Tea Party Conservatives summed it up most eloquently:
“106,000 total enrolled in Obamacare.” (Umm excuse me… BAHAHAHAHA-HAHAHAHAHA-HAHAHA-HAHA …EPIC FAIL)
But, as usual, the big number that catches the casual reader’s eye is as context-deficient as any other number Teabaggers bandy about. It’s common knowledge at this point that ACA enrollment hasn’t exactly lived up to initial White House expectations of 500,000 enrollments in the first month…but the truth of the matter is a bit more complex than some would have you believe.
Facts, By the Numbers
It is true that during the first month of open enrollment, HHS reported that 106,185 people have signed up for heath insurance through the ACA exchanges; about 25 percent were through the broken Federal exchange site, and the other 75% signed up through state exchanges. And, technically speaking, some on the Right say that those shouldn’t count yet, because their coverage doesn’t start until January.
In addition to those, 396,261 people gained medical coverage through Medicaid expansions in the 26 states that have allowed it. So, for the first month, 500,000 people have indeed gotten health coverage as a direct result of the Affordable Care Act. Granted, those Medicaid expansion coverage don’t count toward those needed to make the ACA work for insurance companies. But America didn’t vote for the ACA to bolster insurance company profits, so 500,000 more people covered is still half a million more than last month.
There’s another silver lining here, as well: on top of the 106,000 who signed up for coverage, about 1 million more applied for eligibility and received a quote through the Federal exchange, but haven’t selected a plan. That’s a pretty relevant figure, since the sign-up portion of the ACA exchange site is the part that’s been broken. So, for the first time in recorded history, we’ve seen some evidence of supply-side economics. Most people who were approved weren’t able to purchase a plan afterward due to website dysfunction; we can expect enrollment numbers to go up significantly once the website bugs are worked out.
The Feds know that…and so, apparently, do some people with an understanding of basic programming.
I’m Tellin All Ya’ll, IT’S SABOTAGE!!
The Feds have recently aknowledged that a hack program called “Destroy ObamaCare“ is being distributed as a tool to disrupt the website. Realistically, calling this simple “denial of service” attack a “hack” is like calling a Hot Wheels car “a Lamborghini.” It’s fairly primitive, designed to open multiple ACA site pages and overload the servers with page requests. But Arbor researcher Marc Eisenbarth has said that the simple DOS tool isn’t likely to slow things down considerably. Certain features of the underlying code make it about as effective as a BB gun against an aircraft carrier.
Still, that hasn’t stopped the program’s developer from issuing this statement, which pops up when users open the program:
[box type=”shadow”]Destroy Obama Care.
This program continually displays alternate page of the ObamaCare website. It has no virus, trojans, worms, or cookies.
The purpose is to overload the ObamaCare website, to deny service to users and perhaps overload and crash the system.
You can open as many copies of the program as you want. Each copy opens multiple links to the site.
ObamaCare is an affront to the Constitutional rights of the people. We HAVE the right to CIVIL disobedience![/box]
Hear that? You HAVE the right CIVILLY open your BROWSWER! Which is effectively what the program does; in effect, it’s not doing anything you couldn’t do by opening multiple tabs to the same page. It just does it faster and easier. Still, this is one of those things that proves that, in spite of the right’s protestations that the ACA is inherently flawed and will fail because it’s so awful, it still needs a helping hand to fail because it’s not awful enough.
Speaking of awful, detestable, useless things, here’s a Republican from Texas complaining that the Department of Homeland Security isn’t doing enough to help secure the site. Mike McCaul, at a hearing on the DHS:
“The DHS has not participated in any meaningful way in developing, monitoring or ensuring the security of HealthCare.gov, the health exchanges or the federal data services hub.”
The DHS’ reply: It’s limited by law as to the services it can provide. Shocking…a Republican who doesn’t know where a government agency’s authority ends. Mark this date.
So, What’s it All Mean?
Primarily, it means that in the first month, not as many people signed up for coverage as the White House projected. Part of it has to do with the broken website, and a certain amount has to do with the bad press surrounding the same. But what’s the worst-case scenario here? What happens if insurance companies don’t get the 2.7 million young, healthy cash siphons they’re after? Obamacare will fail, be repealed, Hussein will be sent back to Kenya and we’ll finally see President Alex Jones. Right?
Not exactly. The worst case scenario here is that if insurance companies don’t get young customers, premiums will go up a bit more than they normally would under the current death spiraling health cost paradigm. At least until they hit the premium cap set by the ACA. After that, insurance vultures are just out of luck in terms of turning a profit off of sickness and death.
Over the longer term, the ACA will still ultimately drive medical costs down, because more doctors and hospitals will actually get paid for their services. Medical bills are already the Number 1 cause of bankruptcies in the U.S., due in large part to the fact that Americans pay more for healthcare than anyone in the world.
It’s an ugly cycle. Medical costs go up, and people can’t pay the bills. The bills either go unpaid, or they get sold to a collections agency for 1/20th of the original cost. To recoup the loss, doctors and hospitals have to grossly overcharge those who DO pay…in other words, they have to stick it to insurance companies whenever they get the chance, just to stay above water. That translates into higher insurance costs for consumers, which in turn means more uninsured (or under-insured) people, more unpaid bills, and higher medical costs.
Ultimately, more medical coverage (even if it is taxpayer funded) will benefit everyone, because it’ll put an end to the death spiral of rising healthcare costs. That means lower premiums, lower deductibles, and better healthcare for the dollar…regardless of where that dollar comes from, or who it goes to.
Turns out NOT screwing people is pretty good business over the long term. Maybe somebody should tell Wall Street.